And so the day approaches.
Tomorrow, on the 17th of April, 2008, the latest leg of the Torture Relay will take place in New Delhi, capital city of the world's largest democracy.
Tomorrow, on the 17th of April, 2008, over 13,000 security personnel will line the broad expanses of Rajpath down to India Gate, creating a corridor for 70 Indian citizens to carry the torch of shame, each of whom will have hopefully searched their consciences about the moral and ethical implications to have made an informed decision.
Tomorrow, on the 17th of April, 2008, thousands of free Indian citizens and our Tibetan friends will be denied their legal right to protest in the vicinity of the torch, which has now been reduced to nothing more than a crass symbol of authoritarianism and jingoistic nationalism for one of the most tyrannical regimes in today's world.
Tomorrow, on the 17th of April, 2008, thousands will watch across the world as New Delhi delivers, at a governmental level, the greatest slap on the face of democracy and Indian suzerainty, as elite commandos from China's special forces escort the torch on Indian soil.
Tomorrow, on the 17th of April, 2008, the world will watch the Government of the Republic of India, (led by, lets not forget so easily, the only political party in India to have voluntarily suspended the Fundamental Rights of the Indian Citizen through the declaration of an Emergency in 1975) as it genuflects before the Communist Party of China, accompanied in its prostrations by its supporters in the Indian communist parties.
Tomorrow, on the 17th of April, 2008, the world will watch as India turns its back on the greatest opportunity to break out of the shadow of its eastern neighbour and demonstrate to the wider world at large that while the globe can talk of "China & India" in the same breath, the two are fundamentally different countries, cultures and regimes. Tomorrow, the world will watch as the Government of the Republic of India voluntarity subsumes itself to the dictats of Beijing, while absolving itself of any responsibility to uphold freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of political thought, freedom of peaceful dissent, and most of all, freedom of conscience.
But that is not all. Tomorrow may be a day of despair, but it is also a day of glory.
Tomorrow, on the 17th of April, 2008, the world will watch runners cobbled together by the Indian Olympic Committee, but will remember that four Indian citizens chose not to participate in the Torture Relay. The world will watch and will think of Bhaichung Bhutia, Kiran Bedi, Soha Ali Khan Pataudi and Sachin Tendulkar. Only Bhaichung has cited his support for the Tibetan cause, but the gradual withdrawal of the others is yet another moral victory for those of us who would draw attention to the crass politicking of the Chinese Communist Party in its attempt to turn what could have been a great opportunity for change into a despicable attempt at projecting hegemonic glory while seeking political acceptance from the six continents of the world.
Tomorrow, on the 17th of April, 2008, the world will also watch as (hopefully) thousands of free Indian citizens and our Tibetans friends will congregate separately to lead a freedom rally, away from the main tunnel of shame. Tomorrow, on the 17th of April, 2008, the world will watch as the stands surrounding the tunnel of shame stay nearly empty, with the Government of the State of Delhi announcing today that schoolchildren will not be sent to attend the the Torture Relay. Tomorrow, on the 17th of April, 2008, the world will watch as Delhi and India turns its back on the torch, sending the clear message that even when the Government does not raise its voice in conscientious disagreement, the citizens of India will.
So if you are reading this from India, from Delhi, then go and show your support for the thousands who will follow the torch of freedom, who will stand in solidarity against a mighty military empire with nothing more than the strength of their convictions as their weapons. Go and show the world that India is the world's largest democracy, the only country in the world to have defeated the world's greatest coloniser with the power of the conscience, the land of the Mahatma, of ahimsa, of satyagraha, of the Buddha and Mahavira, of Meera, Ashoka and Parashurama. Go and show the world that even if the rest of the world will capitulate in the face of economic and military power, India will not.
And make sure that tomorrow, on the 17th of April, 2008, your voice is heard.
(The title of this post is taken from vernacular references to the 1847 War of Independence, when sepoys from Meerut headed towards Delhi to crown Bahadur Shah Zafar the Emperor of India. No reference to violent protest is implied, and the author completely disassociates himself from any violent protest - violence is not something that would make The Buddha Smile)